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Buffalo's 1520 WKBW Radio:
WNY's Contribution to 20th Century Pop Culture
By Steve Cichon, staffannouncer.com

WKBW



Stan Roberts,Dan Neaverth, Sandy Beach.


Tommy Shannon in the KB studio.





Henry Brach in the KB studio.(John Zach photo)



John Summers and Dan Neaverth





1971: Casey Piotrowski, Jack Sheridan, Don Berns, Bob McCrea, Sandy Beach, Jack Armstrong, Dan Neaverth.



Stan Jasinski hosted the overnight Polka show on KB before the station went Top 40.





KB's Studios: 1430 Main St



Stan Roberts in the KB Studio



Danny Moves My Fanny

BUFFALO, NY (staffannouncer.com) - It's funny the way memories begin to haze. Strictly from a Buffalo point of view, in the late 50's and early 60's, KB was one of many stations cranking out the music and antics that made for great rock n' roll radio.

Stations like WBNY, WWOL, WXRA, and later WYSL and a host of others were capturing the imaginations of young people in Buffalo. Tommy Shannon first made girls swoon at WXRA Radio, from a location way out in the boonies. The studio was on rural Niagara Falls Boulevard, in a location which soon would be the home of Swiss Chalet for the next 50 years. WXRA later became WINE, where Hernando played host (left).

Tom Clay, one of many disc jockeys to use the name Guy King on WWOL, was arrested after his playing 'Rock Around the Clock' over and over again, while perched atop a billboard in Shelton Square. Traffic was snarled for hours in what was considered "Buffalo's Times Square," and is now just considered the MetroRail tracks in front of the Main Place Mall.

If you tuned to WBNY in the late 50s, you were likely to hear the voice of Daffy Dan Neaverth, Joey Reynolds (right), Fred Klestine and Henry Brach. At WBNY, Neaverth would pull a rooftop like event similar to Guy King's, throwing candy out to passersby. Neaverth, perhaps with his boyish good looks and demeanor, evaded arrest for his stunt.

But the real pioneer stations of the rock n'roll genre in the Buffalo area each had problems. Either they weren't well financed, or had daytime-only signals so weak that they couldn't be heard throughout the city and all the nearby suburbs. The fact of the matter is, WKBW Radio, with the corporate backing of owner Capital Cities (now THE DISNEY CORPORATION, by the way), and its monsterous 50,000 watt signal, for all intents and purposes blew all of the much smaller competitors out of the water very quickly. KB broadcast to the white area on the map.

In deference to my many friends who worked at many of the smaller stations during KB's run, I will say that there were many talented people, doing great things on the radio elsewhere in Buffalo. But KB had a 50% market share. Half of the audience was listening to KB. Never before, and never since, has a radio station been so dominant in Buffalo.

On July 4, 1958, Futursonic Radio was alive on WKBW. The rock n'roll era had arrived on a respectable, long established Buffalo radio station. When station manager Al Anscombe first convinced the Reverend Clinton Churchill to make the switch to Top 40, initially, the station was stocked with out-of-towners at the direction of the man who'd established WBNY as the city's Top 40 leader, program director Dick Lawrence.
The Ol' Hound Dog might be the only exception to the rule. As many of the smaller stations in Buffalo were churning out rhythm and blues music all day, at night, for Buffalo and the entire eastern seaboard, 'the Hound Sound was around.'

When George "Hound Dog" Lorenz, the Godfather of rock n' roll radio (not just in Buffalo, but PERIOD) first plied his trade in Western New York at Niagara Falls' WJJL, as early as 1951. By the mid 50's, Lorenz's hip daddy style, and the fact that he was spinning records from black artists, made him an institution.

Ironically, the man who brought Elvis to Memorial Auditorium was out at KB when the station went Rock n' Roll full-time. Lorenz wanted nothing to do with a Top 40 style format. While inspiring many of the changes that came to KB and many other stations around the country, the Hound stayed true to his style, and founded WBLK Radio; where he continued to uncover and spotlight new artists, both in Buffalo, and to a syndicated audience around the country.


Before Top 40 came to KB, Stan Barron hosted the Morning Clockwatcher show, live each morning outside the Main Street studios.

But eventually, a base of homegrown talent sprinkled with some of the most talented people from around the country, KB built an unprecedented following in Buffalo and around the country. Most of the names already mentioned here made their way to KB, and many reading this might not know or remember they worked elsewhere.

As often happens, over the last 50 years, for better or for worse, people who remember Guy King or the earliest Tom Shannon or Daffy Dan Neaverth shows, will think they heard those things on KB, forgetting those early pioneering rock n'roll days. If you watched Elvis shake his hips on Ed Sullivan for the first time, and you then listened to Elvis on the radio-- It wasn't likely KB, even though your memory might tell you otherwise. (Left: Fred Klestine, Dan Neaverth, Jay Nelson, Jack Kelly, Doug James, Bob Diamond, Tom Shannon)

Many who played a part in making those smaller stations great feel slighted by the fact that KB has swollowed up the collective memory of the early rock n'roll era; but it's no slight on those great stations and the folks who worked there: It's more a testament to the incredible juggernaut that KB was. Henry Ford didn't invent the automobile, he just made it available to everyone.

With its clear-channel 50,000 watt signal, KB was heard all over the eastern half of North America. Anyone who worked at KB in its heyday has stories. The Joey Reynolds show was a resounding Number 1 in Buffalo. But 370 miles away in Baltimore, the show showed up in the ratings as number 4. The late newsman Ed Little can remember being in the room as packages containing female lingerie were opened; sent from Maryland by an obviously big fan. Don Yearke, known as Don Keller the Farm Feller back in the early 60s on KB, was recoginzed along with his KB Litter Box by a fan in Southern Pennsylvania.

Starting in the mid 50s, and running through the mid 70s, its fair to say cumulatively, that nighttime KB disc jockeys like George "Hound Dog" Lorenz, Dick Biondi, Tommy Shannon, Jay Nelson, Joey Reynolds, Sandy Beach, and Jack Armstrong enjoyed more listeners on a single radio station during that clear-channel time in the evening, than any other station in the country.

For that reason, KB owns a special place not only in Buffalo's pop cultural lexicon, but also for thousands and thousands of fans, who just like the ones in Buffalo, fell asleep with their transistor under their pillow, wondering where the hell Lackawanna was.

The proof is in a quick search of WKBW on your favorite search engine. People from all over the country, and not just Buffalo transplants, have built websites dedicated to keeping the memory of WKBW alive. It's a part of Buffalo's past of which we should all be proud.

Staffannouncer.com is committed to preserving and sharing the pop culture history of Buffalo. As we continue to collect recordings, stories and photos from Buffalo's amazing broadasting past on all levels, its only appropriate to pay homage to WKBW with these audio snapshots, from three different points in KB's time on top. Each of these are probably found elsewhere on line, but a CD containing all three remains one of the most popular CDs at the staffannouncer.com store ($5).

Listen to WKBW!
Click to Play
WKBW 1958
Narrated by then-KB Radio newsman Irv Weinstein, this piece reflects the KB staff from it's first year as a Top 40 station. It starts with The Perry Allen show, with an Irv Weinstein KB Pulsebeat Newscast... with some of the great writing and style Irv would become known for in Buffalo over the next 40 years. You'll also hear from Russ Syracuse, Johnny Barrett, Art Roberts, and Dick Biondi.
Click to Play
WKBW 1963
Narrated by Irv Weinstein, Instant KB was actually released on a single-sided album sized record for distribution sponsors on the local and national level. You'll hear snippets of disc jockeys Stan Roberts, Fred Klestine, Jay Nelson, Dan Neaverth, and Joey Reynolds at work, followed by a Henry Brach newscast, and a quick excerpt from Irv Weinstein's documentary "Buffalo and La Cosa Nostra." Many KB commericals and contests follow.
Click to Play
WKBW 1972
The famous Jeff Kaye produced and narrated look at KB in 1971, with jocks Danny Neaverth, Jack Sheridan, Don Berns, Sandy Beach, Jack Armstrong, Bob mcCrea, and Casey Piotrowski, with Kaye's thoughts and insights on each in between. First appeared on album form from the industry periodical "Programmer's Digest."

Wait! There's more!

Steve Cichon's staffannouncer.com is online to celebrate the History of Radio, TV, and Buffalo, NY.... And a combination of the three. Our purpose is to the fill the holes in the internet. There are many sites about all the above, we we here at staffannouncer.com like to think we have content you'll find nowhere else! Be sure to check out our featured pages... or use the site search feature for just about anything under the sun!
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CRYSTAL BEACH:See the sites and hear the souns of Crystal Beach from the 40s through the 80s. See TV commercials, hear radio jingles, look at over 100 snapshots from the park!! WYSL Record Charts:A collection of over 50 WYSL/WPhD Record charts as handed out by the station in the 70s. The best part: Each Chart features a WYSL jock like Kevin O'Connell, Larry Norton, or John Piccillo (plus scads more) all in their 70s glory! WBEN 1973: Hear Clint Buehlman, Van Miller and the Buffalo Braves... ENTIRE DAYS worth of WBEN in 1973, recently digitally remastered from station logger tapes unheard since the day they were recorded! Buffalo Postcards: Well over 600 Buffalo Postcards, from the 1860s through the 1980s. See Downtown, The Olmsted Parks, the Zoo, Swank Delware Avenue, Buffalo Harbor, and hundreds of others The Uncle Bobby Show Page: The World's Most Complete Tribute to the late, great Uncle Bobby Ash, including the Bimbo the Birthday Clown Song! Larry Glick! Pictures and Sounds with WBZ's Overnight Maven of Yesteryear.. the Great Larry Glick! Channel Four's Santa Show: A page dedicated to Channel 4's Santa's Workshop Show... An All Time Buffalo Classic, remembered by just about anyone who grew up in the 50s, 60s, or 70s! Christmas in Buffalo 1954: Ads and epherema taken from the pages of December 1954 editions of the Courier Express and Evening News. Mr. Dressup: Remembering Canada's Greatest Kid Show Host... Ernie Irv, Rick, and Tom: A multimedia presentation on the Eyewitness News Team of Irv Weinstein, Rick Azar, and Tom Jolls. Buffalo Radio '89: Don Postles and Channel 2 cameras visted Buffalo's Top-Rated Radio morning shows back in 1989.... WBEN, WPHD, WMJQ, WGRF, WHTT. Its Midnight: The Tom Connolly Experience: Tom is WBEN Radio's overnight mystery man, famous all across the Niagara Frontier for his hourly time checks heading into CBS News... It's midnight.

The Milt Ellis Jukebox: Milt Ellis was the PA voice of the Buffalo Sabres for the teams first 28 years. On this page you'll find all sorts of classic The History of WBEN at 75!: Check out the dozens of pictures, sounds, and stories of one of Buffalo's great radio stations... With this 75th Anniversary tribute to WBEN! Buffalo Anchorman: A
Tribute to Buffalo TV in the 70s is a look at the mustache and paisley filled era of Buffalo Television known as the 70s and early 80s. If you enjoyed Wil Ferrell's hit movie ANCHORMAN, you'll love the real life look back at Buffalo TV. the 1986 KB Radio Reunion: Pictures and memories from the the 1986 KB Reunion Weekend, celebrating Danny Neaverth's 25 years at WKBW. The Steeler and the Pittsburgh Kid: The NBC Project Peacock Movie starring Buffalo Radio and TV personality Jim Brinson as the Evil Pat Robbins. The Legend of Haseoke! At a long gone Buffalo Radio station, Mike Schopp and producer Steve Cichon found a box of dusty old tapes in the backroom. After listening to a few, they knew they had a hit on their hands. HASEOKE... as heard on the radio... Available only here... At staffannouncer.com! Hold the Phone: The John Otto Page:The Dean of Talk Radio in Buffalo, John made nights a little less lonely for WNYers for 40 years. The Many Faces of Ed Little: Ed Little was a staple on Buffalo radio for over 60 years... From his time as a Child actor, to his live broadcasts from the Town Casino, to his 4 decades as in the news business. The Plush, Yet Not Overly Ostentatious Norm Nathan Page: After decades as one of Boston's preeminent jazz disc jockeys, Norm was re-born late in his career as the overnight talkshow host on 50,000 watt giant WBZ. He always kept the conversation light, and kept us company weekend overnights. Buffalo TV Tetris: The Classic computer game updated for Buffalo TV fans. One game and you'll be hooked! Don't be the last one on the block to conquer the Irv Weinstein Final Round! The Puckett Dance!: Kids, its the dance sensation that's sweeping the nation... An Audio tribute to one of Buffalo's Great Radio newsmen... And My Radio tag team partner... Tom Puckett!!You must have windows Media Player installed to enjoy.
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